Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015

2.0 Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Administration of the fisheries protection provisions and the pollution protection provisions as they relate to aquaculture, aquatic invasive species and aquatic species that constitute a pest to fisheries, of the Fisheries Act

The following section provides a detailed summary of legislative reporting requirements under the Fisheries Act. This includes various Program roles and responsibilities as well as the activities undertaken in 2014-2015 including policy development to support the administration of the fisheries protection provisions and the pollution protection provisions as they relate to aquaculture, aquatic invasive species and aquatic species that constitute a pest to fisheries.

The fisheries protection provisions are considered sections 20, 21, 35 and parts of sections 6, 6.1, 37, 38, 40 and 43 of the Fisheries Act and include: 

  • Powers for the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure the free passage of fish and to prevent harm to fish (e.g., request that obstructions be removed, fish guards be installed, fishways be constructed, minimal flows of water be maintained) (sections 20 and 21);
  • Section 35 of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the carrying on of any work, undertaking or Activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery, unless authorized by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, through regulations, or other mechanisms provided for under section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

In support of implementing section 35, section 6 of the Fisheries Act requires the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to take into account four factors for consistent and transparent decision-making:

  1. the contribution of relevant fish to fisheries;
  2. fisheries management objectives;
  3. avoidance, mitigation and offsetting measures; and
  4. public interest.

The purpose of section 6 and its provisions "is to provide for the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries."

  • Powers for the Minister to request plans and specifications for any work, undertaking or activity that may cause serious harm to fish or is proposed in an ecologically significant area (as defined in regulations) (section 37);
  • Authority for the Minister to appoint inspectors and analysts (subsection 38(1));
  • Inspectors' powers, including entry, search and direction of preventive, corrective or cleanup measures (subsections 38(3), 38(7.1) and 38(8));
  • Proponents' Duty to Notify an inspector, fishery officer or a prescribed authority of any works, undertakings or activities that result in serious harm to fish;
  • (subsection 38(4)), as well as their Duty to Take Corrective Measures and Reporting (subsections 38(6) and 38(7)); and
  • Offences and punishment (section 40).

Additionally, in support of the application of the fisheries protection provisions, regulations and an applicant's guide were developed that identify the information and documentation that an applicant must submit with its application for an authorization under paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act. An applicant's guide was developed to provide guidance to proponents in addressing those regulations.  The regulations also set out the process and time limits that must be adhered to by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in the processing of applications.

2.1 Fisheries Protection Program (FPP)

Roles and Responsibilities

The majority of the administration of the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act is the responsibility of the Fisheries Protection Program (FPP) including the establishment of guidelines and regulations. They are also responsible for the administration of certain provisions of the Species at Risk Act, and have specific legislative responsibilities in relation to federal environmental assessment regimes including, among others, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and regimes in the territories and under land claims agreements.

The FPP works collaboratively with others to manage impacts to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries resulting from habitat degradation or loss, alterations to fish passage and flow, and aquatic invasive species.

The FPP has sixteen service delivery points across the country with centralized regional headquarters in six DFO regions. Regulatory review assessors in the regions are divided into specialized industry sector-based units including: Triage; Mining, Oil and Gas; Linear Development; Marine and Coastal; and Hydro and Flows. Each regional headquarters office also has a Client Liaison, Partnerships, Standards and Guidelines team that is the focal point for developing partnership arrangements and clear requirements for complying with the Act.

Staff located in National Headquarters are responsible for the overall coordination of the delivery of the program, providing national policy direction, strategic advice and liaison with other DFO sectors, federal departments and national industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Key Highlights

The FPP further engaged with numerous stakeholders for the continuous improvement of the program.

Several science advisory documents have been prepared through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS), a peer reviewed advisory process, to support operational policies. This includes the report entitled Science Advice for Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Operational Decisions of the Fisheries Protection Program.

Fisheries Protection Program activities are aligned with DFO's strategic outcome of sustainable aquatic ecosystems. This outcome contributes to the conservation, protection, and sustainability of Canada's aquatic ecosystems through the management of risks that affect species, oceans, and fish habitats. Specifically, and as stated in the Departmental Performance Report (2014-2015),Footnote 2 FPP activities contribute to managing threats to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational, and Aboriginal fisheries in the context of government-wide initiatives for responsible resource development and streamlined regulations.

The FPP maintains the Projects Near Water websiteFootnote 3 to provide access to best practices for avoiding harm to fish and fish habitat and assists regulated parties to understand their legal responsibilities for avoiding harm to fish and fish habitat (entitled "Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat"). When a proponent is unable to meet the self-assessment criteria and avoid serious harm to fish that are part of or support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, they must complete a Request for Review Form and submit it to DFO for review.

The number of referrals are referenced in Section 2.1.3: Review of Development Proposals (Referrals)

An "authorization" pursuant to paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act would be issued if serious harm to fish could not be avoided or an authorization would be required but would not necessarily be issued per the Minister's discretion and determined on a case-by-case basis.

The number of review referrals recorded in the Program Activity Tracking System for Habitat (PATH) captured in Section 2.1.3 Review of Development Proposals (Referrals)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to provide site-specific review of projects where available best practices cannot avoid or mitigate all impacts to fish and fish habitat. For low risk projects, proponents are responsible for obtaining advice from qualified environmental professionals and applying measures to avoid and mitigate harm.

2.1.1 Collaborative Arrangements

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has leveraged partnering opportunities with other government departments (OGD's) in support of the consistent and efficient administration and enforcement of the Fisheries Protection Program under the Fisheries Act. With respect to the fisheries protection provisions, DFO has entered into agreement with both the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

National Energy Board and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

As part of ongoing efforts to avoid duplication in the review of projects that constitute a potential harm to fish and fish habitat, DFO continues to work with both the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to provide ongoing support and communication in the implementation of current agreements.

The NEB regulates energy infrastructure projects (e.g., interprovincial pipelines) under the National Energy Board Act.

The CNSC regulates nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Under the MOUs, fisheries experts within the NEB and CNSC review applications for projects submitted to them under their respective legislation to ensure appropriate measures are being applied to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat, including listed aquatic species and their critical habitat under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The Fisheries Protection Program becomes involved in the reviews of these projects when impacts cannot be avoided.

In all these cases, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard remains responsible for fisheries protection including decisions on the issuance of Fisheries Act authorizations and conditions of authorization.

In 2014-15, DFO continued to work closely with the NEB and CNSC, including providing ongoing support and communication to implement the MOU.  As per the MOU, the NEB and CNSC reviewed projects submitted to them for impacts on fish and fish habitat.

Table 1 provides information on the numbers of projects reviewed by the NEB under the MOUs between December 16, 2013 to the end of the fiscal year 2013-14 and during the fiscal year 2014-15 and the outcome of those reviews.

Table 1:  ProjectsFootnote4 Reviewed by the NEB
Determination Dec. 16, 2013 to
March 31, 2014
April 1, 2014 to
March 31, 2015
Deemed unlikely to result in serious harm to fish as company proposed to use DFO's "Measures to Avoid Harm" 48 98
Deemed unlikely to result in serious harm to fish after additional review/input from NEB 3 6
Referred to DFO for review/authorization 2 0
Total 53 104

Between December 16, 2013 and March 31, 2015, the CNSC notified DFO of one nuclear facility, which is likely to require a Fisheries Act authorization.

Table 2 provides a summary of the works, undertakings or activities that were monitored by NEB.

Table 2:  ProjectsFootnote 4 Monitored by the NEB
Determination Dec. 16, 2013 to
March 31, 2014
April 1, 2014 to
March 31, 2015
Deemed to be compliant with NEB Act and Fisheries Act requirements for fish and fish habitat protection. 19 134
Non-compliance with NEB Act requirements for fish and fish habitat protection addressed by NEB 0 9
Non-compliance with Fisheries Act - notification/discussion with DFO 0 1
Total 19 144

The CNSC undertakes compliance and environmental monitoring for all licensees under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, where applicable, in order to ensure the health of people and the environment. This monitoring includes consideration of impacts to fish and fish habitat, to ensure compliance with the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act.

2.1.2 Related Legislative Requirements, Policies and Guidance

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) DFO must, if requested, provide specialist or expert information and knowledge to a responsible authority, a review panel or a province for which its EA process has been deemed a substitute for the EA process under CEAA 2012. Upon request, the FPP is required to provide its specialist advice on fish and/or fish habitat, or on aquatic species at risk. These environmental assessments focus largely on metal mining, oil and gas facilities and pipelines, and hydroelectric and nuclear energy projects.

In addition, section 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act authorization for works, undertakings or activities associated with a project subject to an environmental assessment under CEAA 2012 cannot be issued unless it is determined that the carrying out of the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects or that the carrying out of the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and the Governor in Council decides that those effects are justified.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has decision-making responsibilities in relation to the assessment of projects under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, and other environmental assessment regimes established under land claims agreements when DFO has jurisdictional responsibilities in relation to these projects. The administration of a paragraph 35(2)(b) Fisheries Act authorization is the exercise of jurisdictional responsibilities in relation to a project. Similar to FPP's federal authority role when requested under CEAA 2012, FPP also provides specialist or expert advice in relation to the areas of fish, fish habitat and aquatic species at risk to the independent boards or panels established to conduct the environmental assessments under these regimes.

DFO also provides advice and support to Environment and Climate Change Canada and custodian departments concerning the impacts on fish habitats from federal contaminated sites through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) program.

Fisheries Protection Policy Statement & Fisheries Productivity Investment Policy

These new policies were put into place to replace the Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat (1986) as they became outdated with amendments to the Act.

The policies describe DFO's efforts to:

  • Focus the Act's regulatory regime on managing threats to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries;
  • Provide enhanced compliance and protection tools;
  • Provide clarity, certainty and consistency of regulatory requirements through the use of standards and regulations; and
  • Enable enhanced partnerships to ensure agencies and organizations that are best placed to provide fisheries protection services to Canadians are enabled to do so such as other agencies of government and local groups.

The Fisheries Protection Policy Statement's goal is to provide for the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries. The Policy supports DFO's objectives of providing consistent guidance through regulations, standards and directives, and for making regulatory decisions in a timely manner. In turn, proponents will have the necessary information and direction to avoid, mitigate and offset harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat to ultimately, comply with the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.

The Fisheries Productivity Investment Policy provides guidance on undertaking effective measures to offset serious harm to fish that are part of or that support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, consistent with the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. This policy was developed by DFO to assist proponents of proposed works, undertakings or activities that could result in serious harm to fish to develop their offsetting plans prior to seeking authorization under section 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act. Subsection (i), provides an overview of applying offsetting measures for fisheries protection, including objectives, guiding principles and types of measures; and subsection (ii) describes step-by-step procedures for developing a plan to apply offsetting measures under the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act, including selecting the appropriate measures, determining the extent of measures needed, and ensuring monitoring and reporting.

2.1.3 Review of Development Proposals (Referrals)

The Fisheries Protection Program (FPP) activities contribute to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries by minimizing threats from works, undertakings and Activities taking place in and near Canadian waters.

The FPP maintains the Projects Near Water websiteFootnote5 where project proponents are able to access DFO's recommended best practices (entitled Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat) for avoiding harm to fish and fish habitat. The website also includes project-specific self-assessment criteria to assist proponents in determining the need for a DFO review.

Self-assessment criterion consists of lists of project activities and water body types for which DFO review is not required, provided DFO best practices are followed. The Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat replaced all operational statements previously produced by DFO. When a proponent is unable to meet the self-assessment criterion and avoid serious harm to fish that are part of or support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, they must complete a Request for Review Form and submit it to DFO for review.

As part of the review process, staff must verify whether the project under review has the potential to adversely affect aquatic species listed under Species at Risk Act (SARA), or their critical habitat so that appropriate measures can be taken. An "authorization" pursuant to paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act would be issued if serious harm to fish could not be avoided.

The resulting total numbers for fiscal year 2014-2015 were as follows:

  • Review of 3,454 development proposals (referrals; Table 3);
  • Provision of advice to proponents or others on 1,283 occasions (Table 4); and
  • Issuing of 301 authorizations under paragraphs 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act (Table 4 and Table 6).

Review of Development Proposals (Referrals)

This section presents data recorded in the Program Activity Tracking System for Habitat (PATH) on review of referrals.

The Program Activity Tracking for Habitat (PATH) system is a national computer system designed, developed, supported and managed by the Fisheries Protection Program for staff to have one national system to collect, share and report information on the various activities of the Fisheries Protection Program. In addition to being a daily operational tool, the PATH system is used for reporting at the individual, office, area, region and national levels.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Regions

Reference: the map below shows DFO's regions to illustrate the area of each geographic region and to provide context in the Tables and Figures data highlighted in this Annual Report.

DFO region

Table 3 presents summary data on the number of referrals in 2014-2015 by work category for each DFO region, while Figure 1 illustrates the regional distribution

Table 3 - Summary of Referrals by Primary Impact - Fiscal Year 2014-2015Footnote 6
Region Primary Impact
Changes
in Flows/
Water Levels
Deposition of Non-Deleterious Substances Dredging/ Excavating Fish Mortality Fish Passage Infilling/ Footprint Watercourse Alteration No Potential Impact OtherFootnote 7 Total
Newfoundland and Labrador 2 4 16 5 41 69 3 75 6 221
Maritimes 22 3 28 4 157 114 22 44 13 407
Gulf 11 2 44 1 88 107 42 35 14 344
Quebec 3 7 38 8 14 87 6 8 0 171
Central & Arctic 31 3 525 13 64 620 79 337 8 1680
Pacific 28 11 76 8 38 296 114 49 11 631
Total 97 30 727 39 402 1293 266 548 52 3454
Figure 1:  Percent of Referrals by Region, 2014-2015Footnote 6
Percent of referrals by region
Data for Figure 1:
Percent of Referrals by Region, 2014-2015
Newfoundland & Labrador 6%
Maritimes 12%
Gulf 10%
Quebec 5%
Central & Arctic 49%
Pacific 18%

2.1.4 Advice Provided and Authorizations Issued

The Department achieved a 99% and 100% compliance rate for processing applications for authorizations under the Fisheries Act with respect to 60 and 90 day time limits respectively, for which the Minister must abide.

Data recorded in PATH on advice provided and authorizations issued by DFO regions are presented below in Table 4.

Figure 2 and Figure 3 illustrate the regional distribution of total advice provided and authorizations issued, respectively, for 2014-2015.

Table 4 - Advice Provided and Authorizations Issued - Fiscal Year 2014-2015
REGION Advice Provided to Proponent or OthersFootnote 8 Authorizations
Issued
TOTAL
Newfoundland and Labrador 109 0 109
Maritimes 155 2 157
Gulf 223 2 225
Quebec 228 12 240
Central and Arctic 433 45 478
Pacific 135 13 148
TOTAL 1283 74 1357
Figure 2: Percent of Advice Provided by Region, 2014-2015Footnote 9
Percent of advice provided by region
Data for Figure 2:
Percent of Advice Provided by Region, 2014-2015
Newfoundland & Labrador 8%
Maritimes 12%
Gulf 17%
Quebec 18%
Central & Arctic 34%
Pacific 11%
Figure 3: Percent of Authorizations Issued by Region, 2014-2015Footnote 10
Percent of authorizations issued by region
Data for Figure 3:
Percent of Authorizations issued by Region, 2014-2015
Newfoundland & Labrador 0%
Maritimes 3%
Gulf 3%
Quebec 16%
Central & Arctic 61%
Pacific 17%

Table 5 presents summary data on the number of program responses provided in 2014-2015 by region.

Table 5 - Program Response Provided - Fiscal Year 2014-2015
REGION Responses ProvidedFootnote 11
Newfoundland and Labrador 113
Maritimes 247
Gulf 108
Quebec 59
Central and Arctic 950
Pacific 340
TOTAL 1817
Figure 4: Percent of Program Response Provided by Region, 2014-2015
Percent of program response provided by region
Data for Figure 4:
Percent of Program Response Provided by Region, 2014-2015
Newfoundland &Labrador 6%
Maritimes 14%
Gulf 6%
Quebec 3%
Central &Arctic 52%
Pacific 19%

2.1.5 Notifications and Use of Regulatory Tools

As per Section 2.1.3 of this report, referrals are requests submitted to DFO either directly by a proponent or indirectly by a consultant, province or territory, or other agency with respect to a proposed work, undertaking or activity that may affect fish, fish habitat or fisheries. Because of the scope and number of projects possibly affecting fish, fish habitat or fisheries, various "tools" are in place to improve efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory reviews for low-risk activities.

For example, "class" authorizations provide a standardized process for agricultural municipal drains maintenance activities in southern Ontario. The issuance of authorizations under this "class" for pre-defined drain maintenance activities eliminates the requirement for a site-specific review process.

The Projects Near Water website contains a proponent self-assessment process, which identifies activity and water body types for which a DFO review is not required, provided the Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat can be followed. The Measures to Avoid Causing Harm to Fish and Fish Habitat incorporate previous guidance provided in operational statements and outline general measures for preventing serious harm to fish. The self-assessment tool enables proponents to plan their projects to avoid harm, and to determine the need for a DFO review in advance of submitting their project, allowing the Department to focus the review process on the highest risk projects for which site-specific review and advice is most beneficial.

In certain jurisdictions, DFO has arrangements with provincial governments where they provide project reviews and advice for certain types of projects. Examples of such regional regulatory arrangements are the Maritimes and Gulf regions' Guidelined Works processes, where the provincial review process for specified low-risk activities incorporates DFO regulatory requirements.

Table 6 exhibits quantitative information for the class authorizations. The class authorizations are tracked and reported because they authorize serious harm to fish. They are in addition to the project-specific authorizations reported in Table 4. Not all of the other "streamlining" tools mentioned above have notification processes and tracking is not a mandatory requirement for those that do.

Table 6 provides summaries of notifications of the use of class authorizations in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Table 6 - Notifications of use of Class Authorizations Fiscal Year 2014-2015
REGION Class Authorizations
Notifications
Newfoundland and Labrador 0
Maritimes 0
Gulf 0
Quebec 0
Central and Arctic 186
Pacific 41
TOTAL 227

2.1.6 Administration of the Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act by Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Key Highlights

In the fiscal year 2014-15, progress was made on two new regulations, which reflect the revised responsibilities of DFO under section 36 of the Fisheries Act. These regulations - the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations (AISR) and the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) came into force respectively on May 29th and June 29th 2015.

Aquatic Invasive Species

To further the objectives of the Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species, new regulations will help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. The proposed regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day comment period in December 2014 in order to gain stakeholder feedback.  Ultimately, the AIS regulations came into force May 29th 2015 and are available at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2015-121/.  The Department will work with federal, provincial and territorial partners to administer and enforce these regulations via the National Aquatic Invasive Species Committee, a federal-provincial-territorial committee established under the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers. The administration of these regulations will be supported by ongoing scientific activities, such as research on pathways of invasion, methodologies to detect new invasions, risk assessments and control measures and by policies and guidelines.

Aquaculture Management

The Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) —administered by the Aquaculture Management Directorate—were developed, pursuant to the Ministerial regulation-making authorities sections 35(3) and 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act, to clarify conditions under which aquaculture operators may install, operate, maintain or remove an aquaculture facility, or undertake measures to treat their fish for disease and parasites, as well as deposit organic matter.

Respecting section 36, the AAR prescribes three classes of deleterious substances that may be deposited in waters frequented by fish: biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter, pesticides, and drugs. The Regulations allow aquaculture operators to do so only within specific restrictions to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any potential detriments to fish and fish habitat.

The administration of these Regulations is supported by a robust set of policies, standards, and guidelines. Further, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Health Canada are committed to undertake a three-year Science Review to support the Regulations' implementation. The Department will continue to work with provincial and territorial partners to maintain alignment with each other's aquaculture regulatory regimes via the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers.

The Regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 60-day comment period in August 2014, and came into force on June 29th, 2015 (full regulatory text available at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2015-177/). There is no reporting available for this Annual Report to Parliament, since the AAR came into force after the 2014-15 reporting period.

2.2 Conservation and Protection Program (C&P)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's C&P Program is responsible for monitoring compliance with legislation and regulations regarding the conservation of fisheries resources and fisheries habitat. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard appoints fishery officers to enforce fisheries regulations and management plans as well as the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.

Fishery officers conduct at-sea patrols in coastal and inshore areas, monitor catches, conduct forensic investigations and audits, conduct inland patrols and provide information to fishers regarding government policies and regulations. The compliance and enforcement monitoring activities of fishery officers are key to protecting Canada's fish and fish habitat.

Enforcement of the fisheries protection provisions is carried out pursuant to the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act (2001).

During fiscal year 2014-2015, DFO:

  • Dedicated a total of 11,826 hours on conservation and protection activities related to fish habitat/fisheries (Fig.5);
  • Issued 5 warnings under the fish habitat/fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act (Table 7);
  • Issued 3 Corrective Measures (Table 7);
  • Proceeded with 1 alternative measures to prosecution (Table 7);
  • Successfully completed 6 convictions under the fisheries protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act (Table 8).

Compliance and Enforcement

The C&P Program has adopted a three-pillar approach to the delivery of its enforcement program to address existing challenges and to integrate intradepartmental compliance issues in a comprehensive compliance program. This approach, as described under the DFO National Compliance Framework, guides the application of compliance tools organized into three pillars of compliance management.

  • Pillar I: Education and Shared Stewardship include informal and formal education programs and co-management/ partnership agreements.
  • Pillar II: Monitoring, Control and Surveillance include activities such as land, sea and air patrols; inspections and compliance monitoring of third-party service providers; and enforcement response to non-compliance.
  • Pillar III: Major Cases/Special Investigations include formal intelligence gathering and analysis, forensic audits and prosecutions.

pillar approach

For fiscal year 2014-2015, fishery officers dedicated a total of 11,826 hours to fisheries protection compliance and enforcement Activities. The effort and time spent on fish habitat/fisheries protection compliance, identified as a single work element, represents 2.57% of the total amount of time fishery officers dedicated to all work elements combined.

Figure 5 illustrates the pattern in the allocation of compliance effort by fish habitat/fisheries protection activities in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Figure 5: Allocation of Compliance Effort, 2014-2015

The figure demonstrates the level of work that C&P undertook with proponents over the course of the fiscal year.

Allocation of compliance effort
Data for Figure 5:
Main Activities Hours Percentage
AGRICULTURE 216 2
AQUACULTURE 66 1
FORESTRY 1041.5 9
HYDRO 1318.75 11
INDUSTRIAL / COMMERCIAL 1067.25 9
MINING 4253 36
OIL / GAS 339.25 3
RECREATIONAL 524.5 4
RURAL / URBAN DEV. 2040 17
TRANSPORTATION 960 8
TOTAL 11826.25 100

Table 7 and Table 8 summarize C&P's fish habitat/fisheries enforcement activities by region in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Table 7: Summary of DFO Fisheries Enforcement Activities Fiscal Year 2014-2015
Region Warnings Issued Inspector's Directions Charges Laid Alternatives to Prosecution*
Newfoundland and Labrador 0 0 0 0
Maritimes 1 1 0 1
Gulf 0 1 0 0
Quebec 0 0 0 0
Central and Arctic 0 0 0 0
Pacific 4 1 0 0
TOTAL 5 3 0 1
*Alternatives to prosecution include out-of-court settlements aimed at restoring unauthorized harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat/serious harm to fish in a timely manner.
Table 8: Convictions Reported under the Fisheries Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act Fiscal Year 2014-2015
Region Section 35(1) Section 36(3)
Newfoundland and Labrador 0 0
Maritimes 1 0
Gulf 0 0
Quebec 0 0
Central and Arctic 0 0
Pacific 5 0
TOTAL 6 0

2.3 Support of Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector

The Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector (EOSS) conducts research and provides scientific advice to assist Fisheries Protection Program (FPP) and Aquaculture Management (AM) practitioners. In collaboration with the FPP and AM, environmental scientists identify knowledge gaps related to habitat management, conservation, restoration and improvement, fate and effects of deleterious substances and devise research projects to address those gaps. Some of the research products and scientific advice provided in fiscal 2014-2015 included:

  • Providing scientific advice to support the development of a Fisheries Protection Policy for Canada, including advice on how to quantify impacts using a common scale;
  • Reviewing monitoring reports related to underwater noise and impacts on whales in Québec;
  • Reviews of predicted effects on fish, fish habitat, and fisheries of proposed Hydroelectric project in northern Saskatchewan;
  • Review of marine shipping potential impacts including underwater noise and ship strikes in relation to pipeline development in British Columbia;
  • Review of the net environmental benefit analysis for an exploratory drilling project in Nova Scotia;
  • Provision of information to support assessments of cumulative impacts of marine development on marine mammals and turtles;
  • Review of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers report on dispersant use for responding to oil spills from oil and gas facilities on the Newfoundland Grand Banks;
  • Providing scientific advice on the appropriate monitoring of drugs and pesticides if wild fish kills occur following pest treatment at salmon farms;
  • Conducting fate and effects research of aquaculture pest treatment products on wild fish.

Research results are transferred to FPP and AM staff in the form of peer-reviewed scientific advice, scientific workshops, published reports, fact sheets, briefings, and personal consultations. Information provided can range from informal, one-on-one discussions, to regional peer-reviewed advice sessions and large-scale National Advisory Process workshops that follow a formal process to produce peer-reviewed, published advisory documents. DFO's Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) within the Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector oversees the provision of formal scientific advice, and maintains a website (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas-sccs/index-eng.htm) where published reports are made available to the Canadian public.

2.4 Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (RFCPP)

In support the common long-term goal of enhancing the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's recreational fisheries, the FPP funds to recreational fisheries and conservation groups to restore fish habitat.

While the regulatory regime administered by FPP helps mitigate current and future activity that is detrimental to the health of the recreational fishery, regulations are not able to address damage that has already happened in years past. Over the years, recreational fisheries have consistently faced multiple and interacting threats, including pollution, invasive species and habitat loss and degradation.  Of these, the issue of habitat loss is the most commonly identified threat to freshwater fish, the target of most of Canada's recreational fishing activities.  Common forms of fisheries habitat loss include habitat degradation and erosion, barriers to fish migration and water flow alterations.

There is, however, potential to address these historical impacts through restorative action and partnerships.  With government, recreational fishing/angling groups, Indigenous groups and others in the fisheries conservation field working together toward common goals, tangible progress can be made.  At the local and community level, these groups provide important knowledge and capacity that can be used to help improve recreational fisheries across Canada.

To meet that potential, the RFCPP was established as a non-regulatory FPP initiative to support multi-partner projects at the local level aimed at restoring recreational fisheries habitat in order to enhance the productivity of Canada's recreational fisheries.  Specifically, the RFCPP, through contribution funding, enables proponents to manage and execute projects that restore compromised and/or threatened recreational fisheries habitat.

In 2014-15, the RFCPP expended over $8.1 million for 240 projects taking place across Canada.  Based on 97% of data analyzed, the results achieved by the RFCPP in 2014-15 include:

  • over 770 partners directly supported the 240 projects;
  • over $12.7 million was leverage by the RFCPP (i.e., for every $1 expended by the RFCPP, $1.56 was provided by other sources);
  • over 4,690 volunteers donated their time or support toward the projects;
  • over 1,130 individuals received income from the RFCPP; and
    over 5.1 million square metres and 3,200 kilometres of recreational fisheries habitat were restored.

As the RFCPP was established in June 2013, 2014-15 was the first full year of program implementation.  The 2014-15 results outlined above therefore demonstrated significant increases over results from 2013-14, in which the program expended $3.0 million.  Examples of these increases are show in Chart 1 below:

comparison chart

Chart 1: Comparison of RFCPP results between 2013-14 and 2014-15

Success Story

In the summer of 2013, the Réserve Faunique Rouge-Matawin (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec) started work to develop habitat for brook trout in eight of its watercourses. The project, supported by the RFCPP, was completed over two years. The work performed from 2013 to 2015 considerably increased the quality of spawning habitat available to brook trout and restored fish passage to bodies of water that were previously inaccessible.


Stream before the watercourse cleanup Before: Lac des Jésuites before the watercourse cleanup

Stream after cleanup and restoration of spawning grounds and fish passage After: Stream cleanup, construction of spawning grounds and a wood weir

Lac Higginson outlet before habitat development Before: Lac Higginson outlet before habitat development

Lac Higginson outlet after fish channel construction   After: Outlet after fish channel construction

Photo credit: François Lamothe